11 Must-Know Bathroom Remodeling Tips for Building Your Perfect Space

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Reviewed by Robert Tschudi
Updated December 17, 2021
a mother does her daughter's hair in front of bathroom mirror
Photo: Yakobchuk Olena / Adobe Stock

Boost your home's resale value and create a spa-worthy space

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Maybe you haven't updated the knobs on your bathroom’s medicine cabinet since the ’90s, or some of your flooring is showing chips and stains. Whatever your reason (and given that bathroom remodels typically see one of the best returns on investment), it’s a smart room to focus on. You can expect to recoup 50% to 60% of your renovation cost from a resale, and because it’s usually a smaller space, the makeover will cost you less.

But before you lift up the tile and take a sledgehammer to the sink, take a few steps to ensure your remodel gets finished without a hitch.

1. Know the Reasons Behind the Remodel

Whether you’re looking to boost your home’s resale value or if you’re just tired of looking at that old black-and-white checkerboard tile, it’s important to figure out why you want to remodel in the first place.

Here are a few common motivators to consider while you weigh all your design choices:

  • Increasing floor space

  • Modernizing outdated features

  • Improving the layout

  • Updating to increase accessibility for older household residents

  • Repairing old plumbing or broken fixtures

  • Increasing home’s resale value

There are a number of routes you can go when remodeling your bathroom—from just replacing a tub or the toilet to a complete redesign that could include new flooring, swapping out the vanity, adding accessibility features, or expanding the size of the room.

2. Plan Your Budget

How much a bathroom remodel costs varies widely and depends on many factors. These projects generally start around $6,000 and can reach up to $50,000.

Here are some ballpark costs for common bathroom remodel projects:

  • Heated floors with programmable thermostats: $1,000–$3,000

  • Convert the tub to a shower: $4,000–$4,500

  • LED lighting: $1,700

  • Marble flooring: $8,030

  • Medicine cabinet and sconces: $250–$1,500

3. Don’t Make the Toilet the Center of Attention

Bathroom doors are often left open, and you probably don’t want guests walking by to be stared down by the toilet. Consider making a beautiful vanity the first thing one sees when opening the door, or a wall with shelves and plants.

4. Plan the Lighting

Don’t be afraid to take several different lighting approaches. You can even install a statement piece, such as a pendant or chandelier, to give the room some pizazz. Just because it’s a bathroom doesn’t mean you have to settle for unflattering lighting!

5. Don’t Forget About the Fan

A bathroom fan is hugely important, allowing for proper ventilation so this moisture-filled room doesn’t grow mold and mildew. If you’ve got a big window to allow even more airflow (double-hung windows work wonders for bathrooms!) that’s a bonus.

“In the past, bathroom fans were not something contractors focused on,” says Bob Tschudi, Angi Expert Review Board member and general contractor in Raleigh, NC. “Many fans have broken ductwork in crawl or attic spaces, sending moisture and creating an environment where mold can grow. So when you install or replace a fan, follow the ductwork to the exterior wall and make sure that the air is being delivered to the outside of the house.”

6. Heat the Flooring

Not only will radiant heating feel great—especially if you live in a chilly climate—but it won’t reduce the overall floor space as most other heating systems do. Just double-check to confirm that the flooring material you have will be compatible with your heating system.

7. Replace Your Tub With a Shower

Yes, the look of an antique clawfoot tub is appealing, but it’s likely taking up a lot of space in your bathroom that can be used for shelving, nooks for bathroom amenities including soaps and towels, or a striking vanity. Consider converting your tub to a shower and save on space.

8. Rethink the Vanity

If your bathroom’s vanity is over 50 years old, it may be time to upgrade. Older vanities are sized around 30-by-32 inches, which might make them uncomfortable to the modern user. Modern vanities come in a range of sizes, so you should figure out what height feels right. Measure how high your kitchen counters are—if you cook regularly (and comfortably!) that might be the right size for your vanity as well.

“When it comes to vanities, there are two rules: People want two basins, and the height has to be right,” says Tschudi. “Bathroom vanities need to be 36 inches high these days, and people want individual sinks.”

9. Don’t Be Afraid of New Materials, Colors, and Patterns

One way to overhaul your bathroom layout design is to redo the tiling on the floors, in the shower, and on the walls. Rather than stick to a traditional all-white space, experiment with different colors, shapes, and patterns, all while considering the practicality of different materials. For example, a pebble stone shower floor will offer an earthy look and feel, all while being extremely durable.

10. Keep Storage in Mind

You don’t want to totally redo your bathroom only to discover that there’s nowhere to put your towels, toilet paper, or toothpaste. While you plan, take stock of all the things that you keep in the bathroom and where they can be put so the space stays clutter-free.

11. Bring It Alive With Plants

Your bathroom doesn’t have to be bare! Move some moisture-loving plants into the space. Not only do plants add pops of color, but they give the space a cozy, lived-in feel too.

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